Saproxylic beetle diversity in a managed boreal forest: Importance of stand characteristics and forestry conservation measures

McGeoch M.A. ; Schroeder M. ; Ekbom B. ; Larsson S. (2007)


Saproxylic beetles constitute a significant proportion of boreal forest biodiversity. However, the long history of timber production in Fennoscandia has significantly reduced the availability of dead wood and is considered a threat to the conservation of saproxylic beetle assemblages. Therefore, since the mid-1990s dead wood retention in harvested stands has formed an integral part of silvicultural practices. However, the contribution of this biodiversity- orientated management approach to conserving saproxylic beetle assemblages in boreal forest landscapes that include production forestry remains largely untested. We examined differences in resident saproxylic beetle assemblages among stands under different management in a boreal forest landscape in Central Sweden, and in particular stands managed according to new conservation- orientated practices. We also investigated the relationship between beetle diversity and forest stand characteristics. Bark of coarse woody debris (CWD) was sieved for beetles in old managed stands, unmanaged nature reserves, and set-aside areas, and clear-cut stands harvested according to certification guidelines [new forestry (NF) clear-cuts]. All stand types contributed significantly to the total diversity of beetles found. While stand size, position, and distance to nearest reserve were unimportant, both the quality and the quantity of CWD in stands contributed significantly to explaining beetle abundance and species richness. This extends the previous findings for red-listed invertebrates, and shows that heterogeneous substrate quality and a range of management practices are necessary to maintain saproxylic beetle diversity in boreal forest landscapes that include production forestry. The unique abiotic conditions in combination with the abundant and varied CWD associated with NF clear-cuts form an important component of forest stand heterogeneity for saproxylic beetles. It is thus essential that sufficient, diverse, CWD is retained in managed boreal landscapes to ensure the conservation of boreal saproxylic beetle assemblages. © 2007 The Authors.

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